Chris Taggart is a founder of OpenlyLocal and OpenCorporates. He says “When people ask what I do I say I open up data, sometimes whether people like it or not.” In the beginning he didn’t really expect much to come of his first scrapers “other than maybe being told off by the councils, because all the councils at that time had got things on their website saying this is copyright”.
He did it anyway with a very profound outcome:
I expected them to send me a take down notice … actually that didn’t happen. What did happen is that a couple of councils contacted us and said we like what you’re doing, will you start scraping us.
His first success spurred him on to create an even more ambitious project. Corporate data. He knew he’d be looking at a vast array of sources scattered across the web, in different languages and formats. So he made call out on ScraperWiki for OpenCorporates. It currently has information from 22 million companies across 28 jurisdictions. And it’s an alpha! I caught up with him on Skpye to find out what he’s learnt about conquering copyright and scaling open data projects.